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Maine Experience is an original production of MPBN featuring historical segments on various aspects of Maine life – it might be a person, a place, a historical event or even a cultural phenomenon – that makes the Pine Tree State such a unique place, one that captures the hearts of residents and visitors alike. More than 50 segments from this series are currently available on-demand from

If you would like to purchase an episode of Maine Experience call 1-800-884-1717

Sen. Margaret Chase Smith: Declaration of Conscience

Watch a defining moment in the career of one of America’s most trailblazing politicians, Margaret Chase Smith. On June 1, 1950, Smith – the first woman ever elected to both the U.S. House and Senate – gave a speech that became known as the Declaration of Conscience, standing up to Sen. Joseph McCarthy before anyone else dared.

Read the text of the speech here 


View Web Extra

The "Declaration of Conscience" segment is not available online at this time because the broadcast rights obtained for some of the third-party content in the segment have not been secured for online streaming. MPBN is attempting to secure online streaming rights. In the event the online rights cannot be secured in timely fashion, MPBN will re-edit this segment and post it online soon. Thank you for your patience.


Voices of the Grange

An examination of the agrarian beginnings of the Grange in 1867 and how it took root in Maine. Grange halls are still holding on as a center of community life in many Maine towns, serving as the setting for countless weddings, bean suppers and class reunions. Profiled in-depth is the Houlton Grange, once the world's largest.


Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 6:51)     

A Morning in Winter, 1895

The decisive factor in the location of early settlements was the presence of water. Settlers looked for swift running streams and rivers to turn waterwheels and, later, turbines to power mills around which many Maine towns sprang. By 1840, Maine had over 1,400 mills, though now only a handful survive; each had its own story.

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 5:54) 

The Underground Railroad in Maine

Slavery is not usually associated with Maine. But the state played a role in both perpetuating this terrible institution and fighting it. This complicated tale describes the conflict between commerce and morality as it played out in mid-19th century Maine.

 Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 14:24) 

*Classroom companion Materials

Millinocket: A Great Northern Company Town

Paper was once king of the Maine woods. Nowhere more so than Millinocket. With surprising detail, Great Northern Paper Company developed this town using some experimental social engineering still in evidence throughout the Katahdin region.


Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 7:02) 

The Tools That Made Maine

Maine is well known for shipbuilding dating back to the 1600s. However, no ships could have been built here without necessary tools. This is the story of the implements, which gave rise to some of Maine's greatest industry.



Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 6:10) 

Liberty Ships

The men and women who streamed into Portland in the 1940s to work in South Portland’s shipyards helped win World War II.  The Liberty Ships built there became the backbone of troop and equipment transport.  These contributions from the homeland, in many cases, were just a valuable as those who fought the battles overseas.



Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 15:44) 

Maine's Radio Cowboys

Maine has a fascinating tradition of country music makers. These cowboys and cowgirls traveled all over Northern New England and Atlantic Canada, playing every country roadhouse and juke joint from Alfred to Aroostook and beyond. These performers became local celebrities because of the power of radio beginning in the 1930s.

 Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 10:49) 

Stories in Stone

Everyone has their favorite and they come in all shapes and sizes. Maine's stone structures tell the story of Maine in their history and beauty.

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 10:47) 

The Shoe Strike of 1937

In 1937 the largest labor strike in the state's history erupted in violence. The incident made national headlines as years of simmering disagreements over workers' rights boiled over. The ensuing riots divided Lewiston-Auburn in ways we feel today.

 Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 15:30) 

Biddeford's Past Lives

The city of Biddeford has a rich manufacturing tradition that required the hands and minds of many different people. French-Canadian, Irish, German, Polish and Turkish immigrants all called Biddeford home during the city's heyday. Some of the buildings they helped create and inhabited in the 1800s remain visible to this day.


Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 6:33) 

Eastport's Last Sardine

The social documentary photographer Lewis Hine visited Eastport in 1911 to record the working conditions of the children employed in the sardine factories. What he found were amazing stories of perseverance under difficult circumstances.



Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 12:38) 

Greenville's Grand Era

The Moosehead Lake area has a rich history of logging and tourism. As both struggle to co-exists in today's economy we look back to the days when both pursuits were relatively new and often complimented to each other.

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 7:43) 


A Day to Remember

This profile of Charles Norman Shay, a member of the Penobscot Nation, details his story of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France. Shay was a medic in the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, called “the Big Red One” for the patch these soldiers wore on their uniforms. His battalion was sent to land on the beach codenamed “Omaha” by the Supreme Allied Command led by General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Many of Shay’s fellow soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice that day, June 6, 1944.


Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 6:30) 

Facing the Past: Malaga Island

Once home to one of the few mixed-race settlements in America, Malaga Island is just off the coast in the town of Phippsburg. See how racism, the phony science of "eugenics" (which claimed that poverty was an inherited trait), economic depression and the lure of coastal real estate combined to end this integrated community.

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 10:17)

Maine Village Mills

The decisive factor in the location of early settlements was the presence of water. Settlers looked for swift running streams and rivers to turn waterwheels and, later, turbines to power mills around which many Maine towns sprang. By 1840, Maine had over 1,400 mills, though now only a handful survive; each had its own story.

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 5:54) 

White Gold

If there's one thing Maine doesn't lack in winter, it's ice. In 1870, a warm winter in which ice didn't form on New York and Pennsylvania rivers had entrepreneurs looking to Maine for ice to keep city ice-boxes cool. Soon, 90% of ice harvested in Maine was shipped out of state to places as far away as South America, insulated by sawdust to stay frozen for months.

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 5:16) 

Wyman's Vision

In November of 1899, Walter Wyman and his business partner Harvey Eaton bought a tiny utility company on Messalonskee Stream in Oakland for $4,500 that serviced about a hundred people from dark until 11 pm. Within ten years they'd expanded service to several surrounding towns, and displaying breath-taking ambition and engineering prowess they eventually became Maine's dominant power supplier, Central Maine Power. Nowhere in Maine is Wyman's influence more evident than in Moscow, Maine, site of the mammoth Wyman Dam.

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 9:49)

Carpe Diem

In an age of mechanization and automation, it's easy to forget that everything used to be made by hand. Imagine the time, effort and skill -- not to mention the years of apprenticeship at sea -- that must have been required to learn how to make the huge sails that powered the biggest sailing vessels of the past. In this segment you'll meet Nat Wilson, whose family has been sailing the waters off Boothbay since the 1890's and who still makes sails the old-fashioned way -- by hand.

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 6:46) 

Old Fort Western

Old Fort Western in Augusta is older than America herself. Now a site that primarily offers schoolchildren a glimpse into America's pre-Revolutionary past, it once served as a transfer point for Benedict Arnold and his men in 1775, who used it to launch their ill-fated expedition to Quebec. Although the fort was never attacked, it still stands as a reminder of the great contrasts between the cultures that once dominated New England life.

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 4:11) 

Bangor, Maine: Lumber Capital of the World

Though the entire period lasted little more than 40 years, the City of Bangor enjoyed boom times during the last half of the 19th century the likes of which it has not seen since. As measured by per capita income, Bangor was at one time one of the world's richest cities. The source of the region's wealth, of course, was lumber -- a seemingly endless supply of it, situated along a deep river that facilitated its transport to world markets. At one time, virtually everything in the city was made of wood; that is, until a devastating fire in 1911 leveled 55 acres and the 267 buildings that stood on them, changing the city forever.

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 9:33) 

Peary's Necklace

Over 700 had tried and perished, but on April 6, 1909, Admiral Robert Peary became the first person to reach the North Pole. Peary's wife Josephine accompanied him on many of his expeditions, and for her 50th birthday the admiral gave his wife an exquisite Maine tourmaline necklace, mined and cut by a Brunswick jeweler named John Towne and accented with gold panned from the Swift River as it flowed through Coos Canyon in Byron, Maine. This stunning necklace is currently on display at the Maine State Museum in Augusta.

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 6:03) 

The Cribstone Bridge

If there's one raw material of which Maine has a seemingly limitless supply (aside from pine trees) it's granite. So when it came time to build a durable bridge in the 1920's to connect Bailey Island and Orr's Island -- one whose foundations would not be subject to the ravages of the tides -- the span's builder, Llewelyn Edwards, employed a unique lattice-work design consisting of huge rectangular slabs of granite piled on top of one another in a criss-cross fashion. The so-called Cribstone Bridge is not only an example of simple yankee ingenuity, it has for nearly 80 years effortlessly withstood the worst storms nature can throw at it.

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 4:52) 

Writing the Changes: May Sarton

Born in Belgium in 1912, poet May Sarton had once been at the center of American and European literary and artistic life and counted among her friends people such as Elizabeth Bowen and Virginia Woolf. Sarton moved to York, Maine at the age of 61 and spent what many literary critics say were the most productive years of her life there, writing well into her 80's. After moving to Maine, she began to celebrate the state's landscape in her poetry and journals as she demonstrated that "a single woman, alone, can experience universal truths to share."

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 9:41) 

Maine's Covered Bridges

This loving look at some of Maine's most quaint relics of a bygone era evokes visions of moonlit walks along quiet country roads. While there are more than 150 covered bridges throughout Maine -- they're also known as "kissing bridges" or "wishing bridges" -- this segment features nine of the oldest that are now under the state's care. These bridges are located throughout the state and include the most painted and photographed -- the so-called "Artists' Bridge" in Newry -- and the 170-footer known as Watson's Settlement Bridge in the village of Littleton.

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 7:53) 

Colonial Pemaquid

Once considered the strongest fort in North America, Fort William Henry in present-day Bristol serves as a window into the past, illuminating aspects of life in what was known in colonial times as Pemaquid. Built in 1692, the fort underwent partial reconstruction at state expense in 1908. The site has been the scene of painstaking archeological study in the years since -- take a tour of the fort with park manager Matt McGuire and imagine what life on the Maine coast was like nearly a hundred years before the founding of America.

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 2:54) 

The Washburns of Livermore, Maine

Israel and Martha Washburn of Livermore had ten children in the early 1800's. Their seven sons went on to become ambassadors, congressmen, governors, novelists, industry tycoons, bank presidents and lawyers. What attributes did this incredibly hard-working Maine family possess that four of its sons served in the U.S. House of Representatives?


Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 10:46) 

A Basilica in Maine

The basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Lewiston is the only basilica in northern New England. Completed in 1938, it's been referred to as "the church built with nickels and dimes" because 98% of its cost was financed by the mostly poor French-Canadian immigrants that worshipped there. Learn more about its fascinating origins and restoration.


Watch this Segment Online (Duraton: 6:46) 

The Lindbergh Crate Museum

The crate that carried Charles Lindbergh's famous plane, The Spirit of St. Louis, back to America is now a museum housing Lindbergh memorabilia in Canaan, Maine. Donated by Lindbergh to the Admiral of the ship that brought the plane home, it was converted into a small house in New Hampshire before it fell into disrepair. It was nearly torn apart before being brought to Maine and carefully restored.

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 4:01)            View Web Extra

Mellie Dunham: Fiddling to Fame

Born in the 1800's, fiddler Mellie Dunham of Norway, ME enjoyed such national fame that he's considered the state's first "rock star." A farmer and snowshoe-maker by trade, fame struck when he was invited by Henry Ford to play at Ford's Dearborn, Michigan theatre, which in turn led to a life of constant touring and fawning stories in the nation's gossip tabloids.

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 10:10) 

Maine Statue Stories

Which is taller, the American Indian statue in Freeport or the one in Skowhegan? Before his trademark axe was put there, what did Rumford's Paul Bunyan statue hold in its hands? And what's the story behind the "Boy with the Leaky Boot" in Houlton? See how town statues reflect the times and the towns in which they stand.

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 6:13) 

Bowdoin Pines

Walking through a stand of tall, straight white pine trees covering 33 acres of land around Bowdoin College, one can almost sense the awe that Capt. George Weymouth of the British Royal Navy must have felt when he landed here in 1605. These trees were the raw materials that made the Royal Navy the world's most powerful fleet for the next 300 years.

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 3:56) 

Rockland in the Limelight

Rockland is not named for its rocky coastline but rather for its abundant limestone, which made wealthy men out of local lime merchants like Francis Cobb and William Farnsworth back in the 1800's. The proximity of these huge lime deposits to a deep harbor made it that much easier to ship the processed lime to places like Boston and New York, where building booms created near limitless demand for the lime used in the brick and mortar construction on which these cities were built. The lime industry was central to the midcoast economy, as it spurred demand in other related sectors such as rail transport, shipbuilding and barrell making.

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 9:49) 

Last Log Drive

In 1976, a traditional way of life for thousands of Maine woodsmen came to an end with the last log drive down the Kennebec River. It was a dangerous and grueling way to make a living, requiring both strength and agility, not to mention a tolerance for cold water and low wages. Log driving even came with its own lingo and specialized tools, as any bubble cuffer with a peavey could tell you.

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 6:53) 


Believe it or not, Moxie used to outsell Coca-Cola as the country's most popular soft drink. Originally marketed as a tonic, it supposedly cured or prevented all sorts of ills. American luminaries from Teddy Roosevelt to Ted Williams sang its praises in a marketing campaign that would be impressive even by today's standards of commercial hype. In fact, legend has it that the "I Want You" military recruitment posters featuring Uncle Sam during World War I were based on the then-ubiquitous image of the "Moxie boy." And yet Moxie became a Maine icon despite not being invented or even produced here. Why?

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 4:42) 

The Many Lives of Loring

Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, Maine once served as America's first line of defense against a possible Soviet attack. With the biggest hangars and longest runways in the world at that point, the population quadrupled and its economy thrived. But then the base closed in 1994 and according to one resident, "it's like somebody came down and lifted a town right out of the potato fields and flew away with it." How has Limestone managed to adapt to the loss of such a vital economic lifeline, and what sustains the town today?

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 10:12) 

Louis Sockalexis: Baseball's First Indian

Born in 1871 on Maine's Penobscot Indian reservation and nephew of a chief, Louis Sockalexis became professional baseball's first American Indian player. Ultimately, his prowess on the diamond inspired the nickname Cleveland's baseball team carries today.

Watch this Segment Online (Duration 5:54) 

Maine's First Ship: The Virginia

Thirteen years before the arrival of the Mayflower, a hundred Englishmen landed at the mouth of the Kennebec River and founded what became known as the Popham colony. One of their specific missions was to investigate the potential for shipbuilding and they immediately set about building a vessel dubbed The Virginia, a 50-footer with a 30-ton capacity that could be rowed or sailed. Little did they know that a long tradition of Maine shipbuilding started with their labors. So seaworthy was this vessel that it carried the colony back to England after a harsh winter and later came back across the ocean filled with those who would establish the Jamestown colony in 1609.

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 5:46) 

For the Long Haul: Lincoln, Maine

This paper-making powerhouse 50 miles north of Bangor has survived on timber, pulp and paper since its founding and long before the Lincoln Pulp and Paper Company opened for business in 1883. But it hasn't been without challenges, as the generations of the King family who've worked at what is now Lincoln Paper and Tissue can attest -- George King worked there for 42 years before retiring in 2002, and his father worked there for 30 years before that. How does Lincoln continue to provide jobs for its residents in the face of international economic competition?

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 9:03) 

The Way Childhood Should Be: Maine Summer Camps


Summer camps on Maine lakes and ponds have provided city kids and rural kids alike a chance to experience the Maine woods up close for over a hundred years. What were the origins of the Maine summer camp experience? And did you know summer camps were strictly for boys until the 1890's?  Camp Wyonegonic in Denmark opened in 1901 and remains one of the oldest surviving girls camps in America, and the Campfire Girls got its start in Maine.

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 7:08) 

A Boat Called Katahdin


Built at Bath Iron Works and shipped in pieces by rail to its home on Moosehead Lake, The Katahdin is a steamship with a long and rich tradition navigating its waters. From hauling food and supplies to remote logging hamlets to ferrying well-to-do tourists to the grand hotels that once dotted the lake, she has a history as colorful as the people who've owned her. Learn of the Moosehead Marine Museum's efforts to restore "Kate" to her former glory.

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 4:30)

Machines in the Garden: Wilton, Maine

In the 1800's who could have imagined that the farmers' way of life could be so changed by the arrival of manufacturing? The so-called "Industrial Revolution" was actually a slow "Great Transformation" that turned men and women in towns like Wilton from farmers and craftsmen into wage earners. Just as slowly, the era ended. Wilton shoe manufacturer, G.H. Bass, had many successes that forestalled the end of the Age of Industry, but even the Bass factory eventually closed, leaving us in our own "Age of Transformation" today.

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 10:06) 


As people poured into Biddeford and Saco in the 19th century to work in the mills and factories, they needed transportation to and from their jobs, giving rise to the trolleys that ferried people back and forth until the advent of the automobile. Today, the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport houses over 250 trolleys from across the U.S. and seven countries.

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 6:22) 

Fort Knox: The Silent Sentry

After two major British military incursions up the Penobscot River early in this country's history, the U.S. government funded the creation of Fort Knox when it looked like war might break out with Canada over the border dispute that became known as the Aroostook War. It was originally slated to be built 60 miles north of Bangor, a long way from where it stands now -- at the mouth of the Penobscot in the town of Prospect, Maine.

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 4:35) 

The Doctors of Osteopathy

Osteopathic practitioners are commonly accepted today in Maine, but that wasn’t always the case. Their medical philosophy, which included a holistic approach and use of their hands to diagnose and treat patients, led them to be ridiculed and discriminated against by the prevailing medical community. Witness their struggle out of obscurity and into the medical mainstream.

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 11:32) 

Winslow Homer on Prouts Neck

Arguably America's most important artistic figure, Winslow Homer arrived in Maine in 1883 and did his most critically-acclaimed work in a little studio on Prout's Neck. He left the studio to the Portland Museum of Art, which maintains it just the way he left it. Standing in it, it's easy to see how he came to respect the awesome power of nature, a theme that permeates his art.

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 6:28)  View the Web Extra

Ears to You

It took a frigid Maine winter and a man with larger than average ears, Chester Greenwood of Farmington, to invent the ear muff. From the first pair fashioned from wire and fabric he got from his grandmother, he went on to patent the design at age 19 and eventually build a factory that manufactured hundreds of thousands of pairs each year.

 Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 2:34) 

Neal Dow: Prophet of Prohibition

Thanks to Portland's Neal Dow, Maine was a "dry state" for over 50 years. His status as the country's leading voice for prohibition was such that when the 18th Amendment prohibiting alcohol sales in the US was passed in 1918 (22 years after Dow's death) he was cited as an indispensable driving force.


Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 9:57)  View the Web Extra

Norlands Living History Center

In the 1800's, Israel and Martha Washburn and their seven sons built in Livermore Falls what is now known as the Norlands Living History Center, preserving the traditions of 19th century rural life. Today, townspeople dressed in period costumes give schoolkids and tourists alike a sense of what life on a Maine farm was like.

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 5:01) 


At the mouth of the Kennebec River sits Seguin Island Light Station, the second-oldest lighthouse in Maine and commissioned by President George Washington in 1795. Since 1857, sailors have been guided by its unique, ingeniously designed 9-foot lens that uses just one lamp to cast a light beam that can be seen 20 miles away.

Watch this Segment Online (Duration: 5:43)  View the Web Extra

Funding for production of Maine Experience was provided in part by: Elsie Viles, Cynthia Crocker, the Richard Bresnahan Family, Harry and Susan Konkel, the Borman Family Foundation, Henrietta Farnum Stewart, Randy Phelps and Pamela Daley, the Roy A. Hunt Foundation, Judith and Joe Kaminski and Calista L. Harder.

Founded by the University of Maine System and Colby, Bates and Bowdoin Colleges.

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